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Monday, 20 November 2017
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Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials, Coatings binders

Bio-based resin for stable timber construction materials

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Working with four partners, Covestro is developing bio-based layers for wood construction materials to replace the petrochemical products used to date. The polyurethane system, which is reinforced with cellulose fibers, exhibits good flame retardance.

Bio-based resin for stable timber construction materials. Source: Dury + D’Aloisio Architekten BDA

Bio-based resin for stable timber construction materials. Source: Dury + D’Aloisio Architekten BDA

State-of-the-art solid timber construction techniques are increasingly coming to dominate our urban spaces. The main materials used to manufacture construction elements are cross-laminated timber and glued-laminated timber. Both materials consist of alternate layers of wood and thinly spread polyurethane resin. If aramid, glass or carbon fibers are embedded into the layers of resin, they create reinforcing segments that further enhance the stability of the construction elements.

No special additives needed

Over the course of the recently launched project, the researchers want to find bio-based alternatives to the fossil-based resins and fibers that have been used to date. They are pursuing a combination of biogenous, aliphatic polyisocyanates and polyols based on vegetable oils. The resultant polyurethanes should exhibit low flammability and good weathering resistance, so that no special additives are needed to enhance either property.

Find out how to formulate coatings with a high bio-based content at the EC Technology Forum on 27 September 2017.

Fibers from regenerated cellulose

When it comes to reinforcement, the scientists favour cellulose fibers such as those extracted from regenerated cellulose. "At the end of this process, we will have the first ever reinforcing materials for use in timber construction that are made up of at least 90 percent renewable raw materials,” says Dr. Paul Heinz from Covestro, who is coordinating the research project.

Continuous production by pultrusion

When it comes to manufacturing the construction elements, the project partners have opted for pultrusion, a continuous industrial production process for highly filled, continuous fiber-reinforced composite profiles. Pilot facilities run by the Fraunhofer Institute are being used to manufacture flat profiles for testing and optimising the necessary tools and process parameters.

Model component for evaluation

During the project, Sortimo will produce an industry-standard model component that will then be used to evaluate the technical, economic and ecological potential of the new material and production process for the construction industry. Beech wood is being used for the component, as this material is becoming available in growing volumes due to forest restructuring.

The project is being supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) through the project sponsor, Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (Agency for Renewable Resources, FNR).

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